If visiting Buenos Aires I would definitely recommend a laminated city map (showing EVERY street, not just major ones). It’s very useful when walking the streets, taking a cab, or exiting the subways when you may not know what corner or direction you’re facing.
I bought a great city map at Mapsco in Denver (the best map store in Denver), so I had a good layout of the neighborhood we were in, and it came in useful, and often we had to duck into a shop to orient ourselves (especially after exiting the subway).
As noted every street is packed with businesses, which means we didn’t have to venture far if we needed something. Within one block of our hostel we had coffee shops, a large long narrow supermarket, and specialty stores selling everything from paint, socks, candles, and much more. Occasionally I would wander into a building, only to find it open up into a big staircase or courtyard with more halls and stairways. Exploring the back door of a restaurant, or side door of a building is a paradise for an urban explorer.
The first few days we walked around the northwest side of the city: Barrio Norte, Recoleta, and Palermo. Palermo is less dense than other areas, and we visited the Botanic Gardens and Buenos Aires Zoo the first week. One thing we missed in this area was the Evita Museum.
The Recoleta Cemetary is where famous first wife Evita Peron is buried. Recoleta is a very beautiful and trendy neighborhood. Walking the streets of Recoleta, and all of the northwest side of the city we were among some of the most naturally beautiful people we’d seen. Everyone seemed to have a sense of class and confidence, and even the elderly folks we saw on the street were well made up and independent, although I wondered how frail old ladies could open the huge iron doors gracing many buildings.
At the cemetery a young couple approached us offering to give us a tour for a donation which benefited a local orphanage. We joined them and they showed us around. Many notable people from Argentina are buried here, and it’s a famous landmark of the city.
The Buenos Aires provincial elections were being held Sunday, and we saw several political demonstrations while walking the town.Argentina has a long history of political and financial swings, and it was great to see people of all ages standing up for their beliefs in an assertive yet peaceful way. Also adding to the political scene was George Bush’s visit to Mar del Plata, Argentina, for the Summit of the Americas in November. Upon returning home I followed the story closed, and unfortunately Mar del Plata had succumbed violent behavior from protestors, leaving many residents to simply leave and close up shop” for those days. The newspapers also expressed concern about how much resource were being given to the security and protection of the U.S. president. The Argentines and I did not disagree on our dislike of the U.S. president, and I found thinking if I was disliked by almost the entire majority of a country, I most likely would not visit, tax their resources, and contribute to the certain destruction of businesses and violence behavior caused vis-a-vis my visit. Another interesting thing we learned was that voting is compulsory, and to maintain your citizenship in Argentina you must participate in voting. We brought this up with a few people we talked politics with, and none had any problem or issue with this whatsoever. I think the opinion would be different here in the States. Residents of Buenos Aires are known as Portenos, or People of the Port. We found people in Buenos Aires to be friendly, helpful, and although my Spanish was not very good the time, when I had questions about directions or other things people went out of their way to help.
I’m currently taking Spanish lessons, and wish I had taken my classes before traveling to B.A., but I found with the tiny bit of Spanish I knew and some English they knew we did ok. Occasionally we had some surprises at restaurants when our food would arrive, but that just added to the enjoyment and adventure of the trip. Even though some people do speak English, if you know a bit of basic Spanish your efforts are appreciated. We may not have spoken with everyone correctly, but we communicated, and that’s what is important when overcoming a language barrier.
“It is Necessary”